Thursday, January 28, 2010

Tax Withholdings

Unless you are a business owner or self employed, the government withholds expected taxes from your paycheck. If the government withholds money on your income and you consistently get a significant tax return, it means that they are withholding too much. Would you lend that money to a stranger for free? Essentially you are giving the Federal Government a 0% interest loan. What if you claimed tax exempt on your W4. Then you automatically put what the government normally withdrawals into an online savings account at 3% interest. Then even if you have to pay taxes at the end of the year, you have made 3% interest on the money during the year. Below is a comparison of the two ideas.

Income $ 100,000.00 Interest 3%

Month          Total            Savings           Interest
   1           $ 1,666.67      $ 1,666.67        $ 50.00
   2           $ 3,333.33      $ 3,383.33      $ 101.50
   3           $ 5,000.00      $ 5,151.50      $ 154.55
   4           $ 6,666.67      $ 6,972.71      $ 209.18
   5           $ 8,333.33      $ 8,848.56      $ 265.46
   6         $ 10,000.00     $ 10,780.68     $ 323.42
   7         $ 11,666.67     $ 12,770.77     $ 383.12
   8         $ 13,333.33     $ 14,820.56     $ 444.62
   9         $ 15,000.00     $ 16,931.84     $ 507.96
  10       $ 16,666.67     $ 19,106.47     $ 573.19
  11       $ 18,333.33     $ 21,346.33     $ 640.39
  12       $ 20,000.00     $ 23,653.38     $ 709.60
Owed    $ 15,000.00     $15,000.00
Return       $5,000.00      $8,653.38

Difference $3,653.38

As you see above, the person that puts their withholdings in a savings account has just over $3,653 more than the person who gave the government a 0% loan. Keep in mind that this method takes a very disciplined individual because if you spend the money instead of saving it you may end up owing more taxes then you have money to pay for. Also keep in mind that you will receive Form 1099 from your bank account showing the interest you have made. Be sure this will not change your tax bracket. Most likely it will not, but if it is significant enough to do so you might want to consider doing something else. Keep in mind that I am not a CPA. You should always consult a tax profession when making tax decisions.

Monday, January 25, 2010


“For the kingdom of heaven is a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey…After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou delivered unto me five talents: behold I have gained beside them five talents more. His lord said unto him, “Well done thou good and faithful servant”…He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant…Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: and I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.” (Matt 25:14-28)

This is a story of stewardship. Notice that Christ did not expect the servant that was given two, to earn five. He only expected his servants to act responsibly and use the money wisely to multiply it to the best of their ability. It was only the servant that squandered the money and did nothing with what he was given that was rebuked.

In real life it is the same. No matter the amount of wealth you have, it is your responsibility to use it responsibly. Many people think that once they have millions they’ll be able to buy an island in the Florida Keys and spend all day on the beach. They can buy expensive cars, five houses, and the finest clothing. They think they can spend all their money traveling the world. Those things are nice, and by themselves there is nothing wrong with them. The problem with that thinking is that it neglects the fact that each person has a certain stewardship over that which they are given. The millionaires need to use their money responsibly, for themselves and to help others. It’s the people that just want to spend it frivolously that end up miserable, alone, and filing bankruptcy. It is just like the servant that was given one talent. In the end he had none. If the servant that was given five talents did the same he would end up with none as well.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Prison Dream

This post only makes sense if you read "Power to Protect and Defend."

I had a dream last night. In my dream I went to a Christmas party. I took brownies. It was like a pot luck, or at least I thought it was. I ate the wrong parties food and the rightful owner of the food pressed charges against me. I didn't get a lawyer and plead guilty hoping the judge would take pity on me. He gave me two years in jail. I remember jail very well. The only currency was a stone system using different kinds of rocks. Everyone there was only there for a few months, but I was there for two years because I didn't have the money for a lawyer. On a side note, people at the party ate all my brownies.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Power to Protect and Defend

There are many things to consider when giving. I will discuss those later. At this time I would like to discuss advantages of seeking after worldly wealth. That is the power to protect and defend. This is my single greatest motivation for gaining wealth. Money can give you the power and influence you may someday need in order to protect your family and or others.

I met a family in a small town in Colorado called La Poudre. This family was a hard working honest family with a modest home that matched their modest living. When their oldest child got married and had two children, they felt very blessed. These new grandparents were able to spend a lot of time with their grandchildren because they lived close to them. The other grandparents lived in Texas, so their grand children grew and became very close to their grandparents in Colorado.

Then one day the unthinkable happened. Their son in-law murdered their daughter. It wasn’t one of those things where they just accused their son in-law, or that there was suspicion that he did it. He was in jail and guilty.

In the small amount of time between their daughter’s death and their son in-law’s arrest, he took their grandchildren to Texas. After the son in-law’s arrest the grand children were left in the custody of the Texan grandparents. Not that the Texan grandparents are bad, but the grandchildren had been cared for and nurtured by their grandparents from Colorado. Now they were in a strange place, with people they barely knew, and with the parents of the man that violently killed their mother. They lost their parents and were taken away from the two closest family members they knew.

Obviously the people these children should be with are the grandparents from Colorado. But the grandparents from Texas decided differently, and because the children were already in Texas, the custody battle occurred in Texas. This family didn’t make a lot of money as is, now in order to even have the chance of caring for their grandchildren they had to travel to Texas multiple times, and pay for a lawyer to represent them. It was a nasty custody battle that took months, put them $10,000’s in debt, and in the end they lost. I suspect probably because the Texan grandparents had more money and could afford better lawyers.

This is just one example of the power money can buy. When it comes to my family, if they are wrongfully accused, or flagrantly sued, I want to have the money I need to protect them.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Golden Rule: Do Unto Others

So, we all know that we are required to pay a full tithe. As we can see from the story of the widow and her two mites, ten percent is only a minimum requirement. However, when Christ noticed the widow, he did not turn to anyone and say “go and do likewise.” The question then is how much should we give beyond a full tithe? What else does God require of us? Like many of the questions posed in this writing, this is a very personal question between each individual and God. I cannot answer it, but I can give you some guidance on the matter. I think one of the best parables taught on this subject is found in Matthew chapter 25, verses 34-40.

“Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, an ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? Or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

In this parable the commandment is not given to take in the needy or sick. We are not commanded to feed the hungry. However, we are taught to do these things, and taught that doing them will bring us great rewards in heaven. Also, that not doing them will bring us great sorrow.

In John chapter 15, verses 12-13 Christ commands us to love one another as he has loved us. Christ loved us so much that he gave his life, not to save ours, but just for the chance that we might accept his sacrifice and live again. Christ knew that there would be many who would not accept his sacrifice, but he gave it anyway. Does this mean that it is a sin if we do not give our life to save another? I doubt Christ would require repentance from someone that froze in fear rather than running into a burning building. I do believe that if someone did run into a burning building Christ would reward their heroic actions.

What Christ means is that we must do unto others as He would do, and that we must love others as Jesus loves us. If we love strangers and friends as children of God, then we will desire to give to the needy, feed the hungry, and clothe the naked. We will desire to ease their suffering in whatever way possible.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


I believe that we should be willing to give all our time, talents, and possessions to Christ, and to the building up of His kingdom, if called upon to do so. That being said, Christ doesn’t ask for us to give Him everything we have, only to be willing and ready to do so. What Christ does ask for is a tithe. Webster’s Diction defines a tithe as “a tenth part of something paid as a voluntary contribution or as a tax especially for the support of a religious establishment.” In this case we are asked to pay one-tenth of our increase, or income, as a tithe to support God’s church. Malachi 3:10 says, “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”

I think we can agree that Christ requires ten percent of our income. That is a well established number in the gospel. Some may think that they cannot afford to give ten percent, or justify that it’s ok to pay less, but according to Malachi you cannot afford to miss the blessings of paying a full tithe. The ten percent is a question of faith. Do you believe that Christ will open the windows of heaven and pour you out a blessing? If you believe then you contribute. An excellent example of faith in the law of tithing can be found in Mark chapter 12, verses 42-44. The widow gave two mites, and that sum was greater than all the other contributions, because she gave all that she had. She gave these two mites because she had faith that God would bless her for doing so. She understood what blessings she would receive and wanted them badly enough to give everything she had.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Root of All Evil

I propose that money is not the root of all evil. I would say that greed is the root of all evil; greed for power, money, and possessions. Money itself is not evil and cannot keep you out of heaven. It is the love of money that will keep you out of the Kingdom of God. The love of any possession can keep you out of the Kingdom of God if you love the possession more than Christ.

In the story of the man that came to Christ in Mark chapter 10, verses 17-22, Christ does not tell the man to repent for owning numerous expensive things. He tells him to sell his things and give the money to the poor, and come follow Him. It was a test. The man loved his stuff so much that he could not give it to the poor, and therefore could not take up the cross and follow Christ. In other words he loved possessions more than Christ, and therefore failed the test.

Further evidence that money is not actually the root of all evil is found in the Old Testament. King David, the second King of Israel, author of many of the psalms found in the Book of Psalms, was known as a righteous and great king. Though he did have his faults, wealth was not one of him. The Bible says that “he died in a good old age, full of days, riches, and honor.” (1 Chronicles 29:28)

A story of even more wealth and righteousness is that of King Solomon. He was the third King of Israel, the son of King David, and very likely the richest prophet of God found in the Bible. Towards the beginning of his reign he prayed to God and asked,
“Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad…And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment; Behold, I have done according to thy words…and I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honor: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days.” (1 Kings 3:9-14)

Later in 1 King 10:23 we learn that, “king Solomon exceeded all the kings of the earth for riches and for wisdom.” Was this righteous? Should he have given his wealth away to the poor and needy? He could have given food and comfort to hundreds of thousands.

His wealth was a direct blessing from the Lord. God chose to bless him with great wealth. Much of it came in the form of gifts from kings and queens for his wisdom. If money is the root of all evil then why would God bless His prophet and king with so much of it? Money may be the root of some evil, but in itself money is not evil. Both of these Kings of Israel did have faults and did commit sin, but their sin was not wealth. Their sins were a result of corruption by lust.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Religious Leaders

If a person of faith should give away all that they own, or at least the excess, then why are so many believers and religious leaders very well off? If you’re a Catholic, why is the Pope decorated in so many jewels? Shouldn’t they be sold and the proceeds given to the needy? If you’re LDS (Mormon) then why are so many of the recent and past leaders of the church so well off? Many of them have been very successful in businesses. Some have had world renowned private practices. Why didn’t they practice for free in third world nations? If you’re of another Christian faith, then think about your pastor or preacher. What kind of car does he drive? What is his house like? Does he live as meekly as he could, or should? What about the large church organizations of the world. Many of them have very high net worth. Why don’t those churches sell their real estate, or cash out their investment accounts and give it to the poor?

If we are honest with ourselves, I’m sure that everyone, including religious leaders, would be able to spend a bit more, and give a bit less. I’m not asking you to pass judgment, and I’m definitely not passing judgment myself. However, if you do feel that your religious leader is not using your contributions responsibly then maybe you should consider finding a new congregation. I once met a preacher who’s congregation had just bought him a brand new Corvette. If nothing else, something like that should raise questions. The choice of a congregation is a decision only you can make with the guidance of the Lord. I am simply asking you to think about these questions, because if you think about them you will find the answers to our other questions.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Is it righteous to seek after worldly wealth?

Is it righteous to seek after worldly wealth? This a question any God fearing man or women may ask themselves at one point in time or another. After all, money is the root of all evil, and if money is the root of all evil, then how could it be a righteous desire? The Richest Man in Zion answers this question and other financial questions for the everyday Christian.

In the tenth chapter of Mark, verses 17-22, a man came to Christ and asked Him what he needed to do in order to inherit eternal life. Christ responded by telling him various commandments from the commonly known "Ten Commandments." The man replied by saying that he had obeyed all of the commandments from his youth. Then Jesus told him that he only lacked one thing. Christ told him to go and sell all that he had and give it to the poor, and then to "take up the cross," and follow Him. The man went away grieving because he was a very rich person and had great possessions.

Christ then goes on to tell the disciples that "it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." In the time when this was said, the citys were often surrounded by great walls to protect its inhabitants from enemies. During the day large gates were opened so that great amounts of traffic could come and go freely. At night these gates were shut, and if someone wanted to enter the city they would have to do so through an entrance commonly referred to as the "eye of the needle." The "eye of the needle" was a small door in the wall. It was fairly simple for a single person to go through this entrance, but it is said that a loaded camel would practically have to get on its knees in order to get through the door. As you can imagine camels don't walk on their knees very easily. This section of Mark makes it seem like if you are rich, and you want to enter into the kingdom of God, it might be easier for you to just give your money away than attempt to live a righteous and worthily life.

Is this so? Should believers just give all their extra money to charity? This would definitely be a noble cause, but would it be responsible? How do we define excess? What happens if we give away our "excess" and then we are not prepared for unexpected expenses or unforeseen events? What about our responsibility to provide for our family or our children? These are some very difficult questions that should not be taken lightly. Each individual has the right to consider and decide their answers for themselves. Over the coarse of the next couple of weeks I will attempt to offer helpful advice for those who ponder this query.